Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Posted by sean On June - 11 - 2011

Daniel Radcliffe looks fondly towards the horizon, seeing a future career without Harry Potter.

 

My friend and I arrived at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre as avid Harry Potter fans amped to see Daniel Radcliffe shed his decade-long persona.  It was the first time either of us had been to a Broadway play and we had no idea what to expect.  From the moment we took our seats, the promise of an experience vastly different from any movie screening filled us with excitement that only intensified in the minutes before the curtain opened.  But as the orchestra began the 50’s jazzy overture, we were as yet unaware of how captivating the show was going to be.

 

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying fires on all cylinders from the opening number and continues to astound all the way through to the grand finale.  While it is fifty years since its inception and is filled with traits of that period, from the wardrobe to the character archetypes, it feels relevant now.  Amplifying the idea of “it’s who you know, not what you know,” it satirizes what is considered today a difficult field in which to get ahead and makes it the easiest thing in the world to ascend in as it follows J. Pierrepont Finch (Daniel Radcliffe) and his climb up the corporate ladder, using his charm, wit, and a handy self-help book from which the play derives its name.  Employing the book’s ingredients for success, Finch rises up in the ranks by gaining popularity with his co-workers and superiors, including company president J. B. Biggley (John Larroquette), while also attracting the attention of a lovely secretary and the boss’s conniving nephew.

 

Radcliffe sings and dances away all traces of the Boy Who Lived, fully embodying Finch’s youthful ambition to scale the mountain of business and reach its peak.  He has proven himself more than adept to handle the demanding task of a musical, shedding a bright light on his career beyond this past decade.  Also headlining the richly talented cast is John Larroquette, who is fun to watch as Mr. Biggley with his stern, yet goofy demeanor spliced with youthful vigor when performing his own numbers.  Making her Broadway debut, Rose Hemingway plays Finch’s love interest, Rosemary Pilkington.  She’s sweet and lovable as a woman who just wants to be with her one-and-only, and more than once, she delivers an entire musical number by herself and does so flawlessly.  Rounding out the main characters in Finch’s life is Christopher J. Hanke, playing the boss’s nephew, Bud Frump.  He is the epitome of a slimy, mischievous business man, even though he is performs poorly at his job while equally adept at sabotaging the jobs of others.  Hanke revels in his character’s devious, childish nature, delivering multiple laughs for every step he takes and every note he belts out.

 

Though as talented as the entire cast is, it’s director Rob Ashord who amazes the most with his ability to weave every bit of detail into a tightly-knit production.  How to Succeed works like one big clock as props maneuver in and out of the stage amidst complex routines from a vast crew of performers.  Ashord’s choreography fits each number’s subject in their own unique way and never feels as if the actors are only repeating the same thing over and over.  He incorporates simple, mundane activities, like organizing mail or getting coffee, into interpretive, yet wacky dance moves that feel like you’re watching a circus act.  One such number is Radcliffe and Larroquette’s duet about college football with their dancing taking the form of practice drill and game-winning plays.  Framing all of this is the work of the set and costume designers.  They managed to create a 1950s atmosphere with lavish outfits for everyone and scenery with multiple pieces sliding into the spotlight, from a desk to a three-story tall office interior, that keep a dynamic flow from one scene to the next.

 

As a fun and wonderfully immersive presentation, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is a glass of good scotch.  It will pull you in, keep you laughing from the opening song, and when it’s all over, you will want to go back for another round.

- Sean

My friend and I

Drive Angry

Posted by ron On June - 7 - 2011

Like a used carsalesman Drive Angry promised something sweet but sold you a lemon

A man desperate to re-live his glory days of kicking ass and taking names escaped hell for one last ride to oblivion. Drive Angry was the perfect metaphor for Nicolas Cage’s acting career. Cage was once a bad ass Oscar award winning actor who starred in highly acclaimed films such as Leaving Las Vegas, Adaptation, and Moonstruck. Once his eccentricities got the best of him, he hit rock bottom and he’s taking any role that his agent can deliver in order to stay out of jail for back taxes owed. Unfortunately Drive Angry was not the fun ride that Con Air was destined to be. Instead, it’s about as exciting a film as Driving Miss Daisy.

Perhaps the bigger badass was Amber Heard whose character got punched in the face by her abusive boyfriend and thrown out the back window of a moving RV. Heard had the most fun as she threw more punches than Cage. Heard certainly got a better gig than her limited appearances in Pineapple Express, Zombieland, and Never Back Down.

Director Patrick Lussier was one of a whole generation of directors making movies inspired from pop culture films of yesterday. While he’s not the only one guilty of living off of his inspirations, he’s guilty of failing to take the genre a step further. Drive Angry was a faux Grindhouse film that tried too hard to milk a few camp laughs. When Lussier directed Cage killing bad guys left and right while having sex, someone should have shown him a similar scene in Clive Owen’s Shoot’em Up. Therein lies the problem with a lot of cinema today. There’s only an interest and not a passion to make something worthy of the time and money spent.

As the accountant, William Fichtner played the devil’s right hand man making sure that Cage paid his dues. While Nicolas Cage still has to pay for the debt he owes, the audience shouldn’t have to pay for this film.

Drive Angry rates as a flat beer baking in the summer heat.

Cheers,

Ron

X-men First Class

Posted by ron On June - 3 - 2011

Wouldn't have the same effect if Prof X & Magneto played scrabble now would it?

From Winter's Bone Jennifer Lawrence played Mystique who was not only the franchise's centerpiece but also the most developed mutant to date.


During a time of change, idealism collided with reality as young men and women charged with a gift to change humanity must decide to continue supporting it or establish a new world order in X-men First Class. Loosely based off the Marvel Comic book property, X-men First Class’s over convoluted spy plotted nearly overshadowed the tremendous performance of the Oscar nominated, Jennifer Lawrence as the shape shifter Mystique. Stuck between two mentors, a young flawed idealist Charles Xavier and deeply troubled fascist Eric Lehnsherr she struggled for acceptance not only in the world but also within her evolved species. Sounds familiar? She could easily be mistaken for a black woman rejected for the color of her skin amidst the talk for equality. By far, Mystique was the film’s most developed character and clearly the centerpiece of the Fox produced X-films to date. By the end of the film, she was no longer an unsure, timid girl hiding behind Xavier’s manipulative coddling but a sure, strong woman able to step from a shadow and make her own decisions. Racial prejudice has always been the strength and most relatable concept of the uncanny X-men. While Lawrence’s beauty still shined through blue make up and selectively minimal scales, the audience easily accepted the concept that her character should be as repulsive as a bad case of blue shingles.

What made the X-men property such a hot topic were the all too human flaws of these characters that made the film more identifiable with the source material. James McAvoy’s passive Charles Xavier jutztapozed against Michael Fassbender’s aggressive Erik Lehnsherr served as the film’s lynchpins. One character compensated for the other’s shortcomings as they challenged each other. The rest of the mutants were undeveloped. Havok, Banshee, and Angel Salvadore had no material from which to carve some kind of identity from. Gone Baby Gone’s Edi Gathegi’s talents were wasted in a character that should have worn a red ensign Star Trek uniform with with an X. Similar problem with Emma Frost. January Jones had no material to work with besides fetching Kevin Bacon’s Sebastian Shaw a sandwich.
Rose Byrne didn’t have a mutant power but she disappeared quite a bit. As Moria MacTaggert upgraded to CIA agent, we never got a good impression of what was her stake in this conflict. Where were her loyalties? It’s all a jumbled mess except Lawrence’s Mystique whose brief scenes with Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy were decent transition points before he dressed in a horrible Bill the Cat meets cookie monster outfit and piloted the Blackbird.

Director Mathew Vaughn created a sophisticated look of a film that didn’t feel like it was in the 60s outside of the JFK speech delivered. Much like the first X-film, every scene felt self-contained, while X-2 remained the strongest because it was one seamless story with an objective. The plot of the film was ridiculous involving a sub ran by well-dressed mutants plotting to start a nuclear war of divide and conquer. Only problem, what kind of world full of radiation would be worth ruling over? Slight oversight made the film falter in the last third especially in a scene where both the Soviets and USA fire ammunition on the beach thinking that it was the opposing side. Alas, it was all in an effect to construct one loud and impressive crescendo of a final conflict. While it might get a pass from non-comic book fans, fan boys who never needed a play book to keep up could easily see a gaping hole to its design. In the end, X-men First Class wasn’t so much about making a seamless film but a prelaunch that would attract old fans of the films and new ones.

X-men First Class rates as a decent tasting beer but nothing more than a cold one that is tasty but nothing I would want to do again.

Where's my straw goddam it?


Cheers,
Ron

Somewhere

Posted by ron On May - 26 - 2011

Stephen Dorff struggles with anhedonia when his loving daughter Cleo is forced to live with him.

You’re rich, you’re repulsive beyond the crap you sell but do I know you?

As self-serving salesmen, today’s media seems to be focused on selling a lifestyle of Kentucky fried manic behavior but beyond the camera would most of America bite if celebrities really led monotonous, disconnected lives? Drawing upon her life experiences of living out of a hotel and traveling with her father, director Sofia Coppola captured the intimacy and existentialism of celebrities living normal monotonous lives in the movie Somewhere.

A script that relies on timing vague emotional nuances.

No stranger to growing up in Hollywood, Dorff played a crazed director in Cecil B. Demented.

Centered around the under utilized Stephen Dorff, he played Johnny, an actor who suffered from anhedonia. He didn’t get pleasure from anything until his daughter Cleo, played by Elle Fanning showed up at his doorstep. Caught up in the break out role he played in, he has to come to terms with his cell phone barking commands on where to go, how to be, and who to meet to continue his career. Clearly not comfortable with his Hollywood image, Johnny battled depression and hateful text messages that might or might not be delusions.

 

Lost in Translation displayed Sofia Coppola's strengths, the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Existentialism is the new religion in an age where people think of lifestyle first, salary second.

Coppola’s strengths are not in dialogue but in capturing emotion in very spatial intimate areas. In extended shots of silence, the audience has very little to work with but there’s an overwhelming sense of wondering what the character was thinking as time elapses. Every character was thinking something in the hotel but carrying on as if nothing was wrong. When the emotions do bubble up to the surface, it’s an awkward moment down to how it’s shot. The audience wasn’t even sure if that’s the right way to resolve the problem but Coppola did a great job at making it anti-climatic. People do not often carry on making a spectacle out of their problems. These conundrums of problems that every one acknowledges exists but does not react openly are a quality that she has made into an art form.

How to make a film most people won’t understand

For audiences who don’t like to work or feel uncomfortable in extended shots of silence, Somewhere might be a movie that came off pretentious. Therein lies the detached state of existence in LA and more specifically Hollywood. In that sense, Somewhere succeeded because individual will express their judgments regardless. The real question is how do the judged feel about living in own skins?

 

Somewhere rates as a fine wine, aged to perfection without any extraverted tasted but subtle with character.

Cheers,

Four loko latte' wha?

Ron

 

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Posted by sean On May - 23 - 2011

Jack Sparrow returns in a new adventure as he sails the seas and treks through jungles in search of the franchise's lost sense of fun.

 

Disney takes another dip into one of their properties with Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, which sees the return of Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) as he chases after the Fountain of Youth, and while it’s nice to see the charismatic trickster from the previous trilogy, he barely keeps this latest installment afloat with the burden of a convoluted plot bound together with mediocre action.

 

Disney sought to scale back on the fourth entry, slashing the budget while trying to get back to the core of what made, at least the first film, a fun, daring adventure.  An understandable approach if they didn’t want to foot the money to top the climatic whirlpool of At World’s End, but the attempt to return the series to its so-called roots leaves the movie seeming like its missing more than an abundance of CGI shots.  From the streets of London to the jungles of the Caribbean, the story follows Jack resuming his search for the Fountain of Youth.  Competing with him are his old enemy, Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), under the banner of the British crown; his new nemesis, Blackbeard (Ian McShane), hoping to prolong his wicked life; and the Spanish, who serve little to the tale.  In the midst of all of these paths, On Stranger Tides musters a couple of entertaining scenarios, most notably an attack by ravenous mermaids that utilizes more tension than action to provide the thrills.  Unfortunately, scenes like that display the extent of the film’s creativity while the rest feels uninspired as if while looking at the script, Disney execs kept asking themselves “what can we do that’s cheaper?”

 

More damaging to the movie is the uneven focus spread over the different characters. Jack Sparrow steps to the forefront as the lead character but proves very quickly how you shouldn’t have too much of a good thing.  His first appearance had him balanced with Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, giving him plenty of screen time to revel in his inebriated nature without wearing out his welcome, but three movies later, his mannerisms are more predictable, and he now has to fill up more runtime with a retread of his usual quips and cons.  Ironically, this additional emphasis on him makes him appear less like the main protagonist.  With no crew and no ship, he has fallen in with the nameless deckhands and is basically just along for the ride.  For once, those who forget to say “captain” before his name aren’t wrong.  On the other hand, the film provides Geoffrey Rush’s alter ego with a new direction for him to explore as a man who has lost the most and is itching to settle a score.  Had the script delved a little deeper into the former foe, this might have been Barbossa’s story with Sparrow working off of him.  Beyond the rivals, Angelica has enough of her own charisma to clash with Sparrow’s, but again, there’s only so little of the 130 minutes to share.  More time with her past with Jack is instead sacrificed for Phillip, a young missionary, and his soap-opera affection for the mermaid, Syrena.  Meant to fill the romantic vacancy left by Bloom and Knightley, their arc garners little interest as Phillip woodenly delivers scripture-like words of adoration to Syrena that only have the power of freezing the film’s pace. Even less buyable is Phillip shouting at Blackbeard about his irredeemable ways, and while Blackbeard has the presence of a formidable villain thanks to McShane’s performance, the script undermines his vile reputation as it leaves the audience wondering why he doesn’t just kill the missionary whenever he opens his mouth.

 

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is more disappointing than bad as it constantly shows signs of what could’ve been a better, tighter installment with the same amount of fun as the first movie, and for that, it is a warm beer.  It may be under the same brand you’ve enjoyed before, but it’s nothing compared to when it was fresh out of the cooler.

-Sean

The Green Hornet

Posted by ron On May - 18 - 2011

Rogen plays his hand in the Super Hero biz. Unfortunately, it had less to do with crime fighting and more to do with hanging out.

In yet another tale of a bratty rich kid who was manipulated into reaching outside of himself to do some good, the Green Hornet was writer/actor Seth Rogen’s nostalgic tongue in cheek bromance to super heroes. Every super hero is a product of its time and the Green Hornet might be one of those heroes. While Gondry did a solid job updating the psychedelic look and massaging the awkward elements such as a minority manservant, it’s still set in Seth Rogen’s mind of naive LA suburb where drug lords are operating out of strip malls without an illegal Mexican or Asian in sight. It’s clear, Rogen was influenced by the 60s TV show of the Green Hornet but he took Britt to the low brow level of a dense buffoon. Britt never bothered to ask Kato why he’s rigging muscle cars with weaponry or what exactly he was doing for his father. Instead, he throws more money at Kato taking his word that he’s not a Korean drug lord using his dad’s money and company to fund his operation. Obviously all Asians including this writer are truthful and trustworthy right?

Let’s assume that Kato checks out. The bromance was 20 minutes too long with repetitious cool looking gadgets, bonding over beers, and jealously over fighting skills when it should have been spent on building up the nemesis for the Green Hornet, Christoph Waltz’s Bloodnofsky. Waltz did his best to work as a suave gangster without a cool nickname, reputation, or costume but his efforts are wasted. The plot was so shallow, there’s no rhyme or reason why his villainous character was doing what he’s doing.

The challenge of super hero films today caters towards motivations that have to be plausible enough for such an extreme or fantastical execution of a theatrical story. There’s very little to the Green Hornet that would require a pampered clown to get his hands dirty when he could have easily funded someone more competent to take care of the situation. Plot holes the size of the San Fernando Valley made the elaborate shoot out at Britt’s media empire HQ obligatory without any stakes raised. It was at that point the Green Hornet felt more like a theme ride than justice.

Wasted talents of a solid supporting cast and a visionary director rate the Green Hornet as a beer on tap that is drinkable but doesn’t quench my thirst for something fun.

Cheers,

Ron

Priest

Posted by ron On May - 16 - 2011

No bible salesman, Paul Bettany played the man with no name but one humongous marker on his face

An unemployed fighting monk defied the Catholic Church in order to reconcile with a missing person whose ties go back before his days fighting vampires. Loosely based off the manga, Priest was futuristic martial arts Western where science met supernatural. Beneath this thick as pea soup mixture of genres was a tale about faith and compassion but too much self-indulgent homage to influential genres prevented the development of character depth. Thus, the story could never move forward with any emotional stakes.

Paul Bettany continued his desperate bid to become a super human character. Much like Legion, he has no material to breathe life into one dimensional character designed to look and act like a stone cold vampire killer but very little levity into the motivations of the character and why he would remain so conflicted with the Church that took away so many years of his life.

Karl Urban and Maggie Q had even less to work with as themes of forbidden repressed love, respect, and rivalry are shoehorned into the film and resolved in less than 5 minutes with a flashback scene.

This film had more questions than it had answers. Where did the very alien looking vampires come from? How did the Catholic Church adopt Martial Arts in their war against the Vampires? How does the Church know who was gifted enough to be a Priest? Why would they retire the Priests with so many people in need? What do the Priests have within them that made them more powerful than the vampires? How does this society operate? Why does the walled city of the Church always produce ash to the point of blocking out the sun? Never mind, this was a story with religious themes. Where does God play into this story? As more questions grew, it became clear that this film was more of a product in form than function.

Perhaps the biggest question is, are there any redeeming factors in this film? The 2-D animation benefited from the added postproduction 3-D effects and might be the best way to save old school animation cell techniques. Hopefully, one observant person picked it out and will use that to promote better thought out ideas. Alas, Priest had very little recognizable characteristics of a vampire hunter story outside of the obvious crucifix and one scene showing a Nosferatu looking queen. By the time the vampires’ plot was revealed, it had little resemblance to a Western as well. With acting faxed in from a bad Xerox copy, this film was the equivalent of Castlevania 3000.

If I had to rate Priest, it’s a lukewarm pint on a humid day. That is, it never quenched your thirst but on a dry unbearable day with no alternative and your last dollar on the table, you’ll take it.

Cheers,
Ron

I Love You Philip Morris

Posted by Greg Butler On May - 15 - 2011

Not your most conventional love story, Russell and Morris find true love in prison

Its Hard for comedic stars to stay relevant through the decades, they may luck out with physical gimmicks (The Pink Panther), or perhaps the weird persona sells it (any “Ernest” films)
If it works, audiences will buy tickets to view the latest bumbling of a somewhat functioning jester. We revel in the behavioral nature of the uninhibited rebel, breaking norms on screen in what we the audiences wish to do off screen.. Silent film actors like Fatty Arbuckle; Charlie Chaplin, even present day Bill Murray, represented the unleashed ids of moviegoers ready to identify with a man/child rule breaker. How long does that last before the comedian wears out his welcome and begins to resemble your grandpa wearing those disco pants you thought he got rid of. Jerry Lewis once disapproved of the Farrelly Brothers” Dumb and Dumber, in particular Jim Carrey’s toilet humor approach of Lloyd, indeed the short cropped hairstyle and awkwardness was in some ways homage to the Lewis’s own geeky character Julius Kelp in the Nutty professor.

Reaching for the lowest common denominator, "Bumblee Tuna" nearly typecast Carey as "the guy who does stupid stuff.."


Lewis summed up his disapproval of the tone of the movie and perhaps Carrey as well. Had he looked a bit thoroughly, he might have picked up Carrey’s choices of bobbing back and forth between low art and better art, from Ace Ventura crudeness to concepts like the very Tex Avery styled The Mask.
Lewis did the reverse or rather stayed the same, continuously playing the same buffoon from previous roles. He was once half the comedy duo of Dean Martin in the late forties before striking out on his own.. but things change, political administrations come and go, economic times go up and down , the caricature of a man -child act can only go so far. This is probably the reason why Lewis’s career stalled in the 60’s and went dead in the 70’s, like the proverbial peter Pan, Lewis never wanted to grow up, Movies like Hardly working only painfully revealed that the times have finally and decisively caught up with him.
And this is where Jim Carrey comes in, veteran of the TV show in Living Color, he branched into the film world, catering first to the college frat crowd with low brow humor but also engaging in more ambitious comedies like the Truman show. Carrey avoids the mistake Lewis made in his career, realizing just in time that burlesque antics eventually wears thin with each generation. So a change was needed if you wanted to stick around a little longer.

Not every thing comes up Michael Jordan in the Number 23.


Carey had some miss-steps along the way. Wanting to be taken seriously, he overplayed his hand in the Majestic, A Capra influenced knock off that gives new meaning to the word maudlin. The Number 23, a semi-horror mystery drama became a mystery on why it was made. Finally taking a page from the Michel Gondry’s film Sunshine of the spotless mind, he may now be finding his niche balancing his unique style with off the wall quirkiness. It’s not the character that’s funny but the situation around him.

Carey creates a caricature of a gay character that anyone who lived through the 80s decade of gluttony can relate to: The pursuit to get Rich fast!


I love you Phillip Morris is the most daring subject yet for Carrey. Based on a true story of a gay con man that gifts his way through life until he finds true love connections with Ewan McGregor, played wonderfully in a gentle doe like performance. With his puppy dog eyes and lilting voice, he makes him a very enticing and literal jailbait that anyone straight or gay would probably fall for. The movie’s protagonist is reminiscence of Spielberg’s film “Catch Me if You Can”, but whereas DiCaprio character was deluding himself of being something he was not, due to lack of family cohesiveness, Carrey’s Steven Russell revel in his con to keep his. If anything the acts of deception by Russell validates the attitudes of economic excess of Reagan-omic indulgence of the 80′s.
There are moments of sweetness that solidify the relationship as in one intermittent scene of Carrey and McGregor slow dancing nonchalantly as Johnnie Mathis‘s Chances are played on, amidst the violent accompaniment of a police shutdown in the next prison cell. The passion and the devotion Russell has in their relationship wasn’t any different than Hawkeye’s declaration of love to Cora in the Last of the Mohicans. Add consistent prison escapes and con jobs gives weight to Russell’s motivations, yes he’s a thief but he’s caring one.
Look we can wonder if Carrey is or isn’t going for Oscar gold with these choices, but I won’t slam him if he tried. After all, everybody wants to stay relevant.

I Love You Philip Morris a beer rates a shot of bourbon.

Cheers,
Greg

Thor

Posted by ron On May - 8 - 2011


The harder sell in the movie Thor was not the CGI but convincing us that a winner of the genetic lottery, Natalie Portman had a hard time finding a decent guy. By decent she meant, a beefcake straight from the cover of Playgirl magazine.

The Gods are angry and there will be hell to pay in the movie Thor directed by Shakespearean legend, Kenneth Branagh. In a house of two princes, the relationship between two worlds will once again, come into play as a banished warmongering young prince learned nobility wasn’t a birthright but earned through peace and understanding.

Branagh’s film might not be of the classical comic book interpretation of Thor but he did succeed in creating a credible interpretation of his own, a super hero tale of romance. He channeled his Shakespearian stage play experience into decent dialogue that epitomized rhythmic wordy monologue derived from comic books. As the All Father Odin, Anthony Hopkins set the tone having established a regal presence within these characters by carefully weighing his words with every breath. Chris Hemsworth worked within his limitations but it was Ray Stevenson as Volstagg who was one line away from bellowing, “What’s in your wallet?” Within the realm of Asgard, these ornate caped warriors are convincing as something one would see at the Metropolitan Opera. The transition of taking these characters and putting them into the world an audience might relate to wasn’t quite as seamless but Branagh did spare his audience the obligatory, “You must be European…”

Screenwriters Ashley Miller and Zach Stentz best known for their work on Agent Cody Banks weren’t very efficient in terms of balancing out the scenes between Asgard and Midgard headed into the second and third act. The time and care invested to make the budding romance between Thor and Jane Foster credible was not as caring when it came to the Odin sleep and Loki’s somewhat convoluted plot.
As the brilliant astrophysicist Jane Foster who can’t drive, Natalie Portman worked well with the limited material as a giggly girl who hasn’t met many desired beefcakes. Arguably more wasted talent than Rene Russo’s appearance was Kat Dennings who played a useless demographic named Darcy. She was an intentional character shoehorned into the story to provide campy laugh every time the studio execs feared Thor might turn its audience off by taking itself a little too seriously. Gotta ask, was Hilary Duff too busy at the time?

Thor faltered in the last act. The much hyped battle against the Destroyer was over before it even started. Loki’s lie within a lie within a lie just had too many plot points that didn’t make any sense. It was the plot equivalent of Bernie Madoff lying to his investors in order to gain the presidency by dooming those evil rich people. Silly and misguided, one wondered if the god of lies and mischief lied to himself. Thankfully, the film never wasted too much time with super villain explanations. Instead, it’s one hammer strike away from the credits.

Thor rates a Strong Bow cider. Sweet tasting and easy going down so long as you don’t get too carried away trying to make sense of it.

Cheers,
Ron

The Bleeding House

Posted by ron On May - 3 - 2011


Patrick Breen led new credence to, “Guess who’s coming to dinner?”

When a curious stranger sought shelter in the home of a troubled family far removed from the nearest town, a dark brooding tale of tragedy unfolded in the Bleeding House. First time director/screen writer Philip Gelatt was inspired from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and it’s easy to recognize its atmospheric influence once the camera gazed upon an isolated home in the middle of nowhere before a stranger came knocking. Nick, the mysterious stranger was played by the well versed Patrick Breen who channeled a convincing creepy, soothing predator dressed in the iconic white suit and pontificating with a Southern accent. The more unpredictable variable was the proverbial elephant sitting in the room suffocating every member in the family. The nightmares of the mother, the selectively catatonic daughter’s obsession with dead things, and the father’s financial troubles gave the audience pieces of a puzzle to play with. With Nick’s introduction, the careful controlled development of family psychology was undermined and reduced to a predictable linear suspense thriller. With very little material to work with beyond the first 20 minutes, Alexandra Chando never quite convinced the audience of the one plot twist in the film because there was no development but rather, creepy imagery. Nick did all the talking, sometimes for other characters, and perhaps explained too much of the plot. While Gelatt created a serviceable film, he didn’t have to spoon feed the audience at every juncture. A charismatic weirdo can carry a film but he or she can also take the audience out of the film to the point where he was overbearing. Nonetheless, the Bleeding House was still a serviceable film with form and function.

The Bleeding House rates as a house brew on tap. It has taste but less character, it could have been so much more.

Cheers,
Ron

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Thoughts on Cinema is dedicated to film reviews. An uncompromising opinion on the intellectual, artistic, and entertainment value to the consumer. With rising ticket prices, we dedicate ourselves to present to you content regarding what you should or should not be viewing. -Ronald H. Pollock Founder and Editor in Chief

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